It’s Called Parents’ Weekend After All; a look at the parents who go childless

Posted by at 8:44PM

At the end of every February, 3,000 proud Cardinal parents flood campus to attend classes, cheer on Stanford sports, and, of course, take their students out to dinner—all part of the annual red carpet production: Parents’ Weekend.

Families attribute varying degrees of importance to the event; some prefer to visit during a less-crowded weekend, some make travel plans far in advance, and a whole other category of parents go so far as to attend even when their kid isn’t around!

My parents fell in the middle category for my first two years at Stanford and drove up from Santa Cruz to take part in the festivities. “We look forward to getting the schedule every year as if it’s a menu for a gourmet meal,” said my mom, Shani. And this year, even though I’m studying off-campus at Stanford in Washington for the quarter, my parents kept their perfect attendance record and joined the ranks of the most committed Parents’ Weekend attendees. “It is, after all, called Parents’ Weekend,” my mom said, “and we’re Stanford parents no matter where on the globe you are.”

Proud parents of Lea Gee-Tong ('13) at Parents' Weekend--without Lea!

As it happens, my parents don’t even stand among the most die-hard of those who attend when their students are studying abroad. Last year, when Kelly Vicars (’13) was abroad in Paris, her dad, Jim, flew all the way from Colorado to attend the event! Once a Stanford student himself, he admits that while part of the allure was in “wanting to walk the same grounds as Andrew Luck,” he also finds attending classes to be “incredibly expansive, thought-provoking, and stimulating.”

When Kelly is on campus, such as this year, spending time with her and meeting her friends and their parents is at the top of Jim’s Parents’ Weekend agenda. And while he certainly missed his daughter last year, he managed to put a positive spin on his solo attendance by remarking on how much he saved by not taking her out to dinner!

Karen and Cliff from the East Bay are the enthusiastic parents of Lea Gee-Tong (’13), who’s also in Washington, D.C. with me this quarter. They love the atmosphere created by an abundance of Stanford parents on the Farm and wrote me an e-mail to this effect from their iPhone while sitting in a Parents’ Weekend class: “There’s a different (and quite wonderful) vibe to the campus during Parents’ Weekend,” they shared.

The two split up their schedule to tackle a long list of enticing events, including a variety of classes, and convened for key events like “A Conversation for Junior Parents.” “It’s fun being a student for a day!” they said. “We only have four chances to attend a PW and we didn’t want to miss one!”

Karen and Cliff also attended an LGBT community center reception and took pride in talking about their daughter with her peers and co-workers who were surprised to see them. Best of all, Lea’s parents made up for her absence by taking her friends to lunch.

To all those parents missing Stanford when your students are abroad, these parents agree: “Don’t even hesitate, just go.” Perhaps the Parents’ Weekend coordinators will even instate a new event for childless parents! If only financial aid packages included parent visits, too.

If you can make it to the Farm, act fast—Lea’s parents already reserved their room for next year at the Stanford Guest House!

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